Make it Yourself: Pesto
'Tis the end of the basil growing season as a deep frost looms tonight. What to do with the all this basil? Make pesto, of course!
Every year at this time we make a huge batch of pesto and freeze it. Frozen pesto is the gem of the freezer. It’s great to bring to dinner with friends, give as gifts, and makes a great lifesaver for late night snacks and those “What am I going to make to dinner?” moments.
Pesto ingredients: • 5 cloves of garlic • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted (optional) • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional, omit to make vegan) • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste • 1/2 cup olive oil
Food processors make the most even texture, but if you don’t have one or prefer a more rustic approach, you can always use a mortar and pestle or just chop all ingredients and stir together.
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast pine nuts for 3-5 minutes (until golden brown).
Combine garlic and pine nuts in the food processor and pulse until chopped. Add basil leaves, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse until blended. Slowly pour the olive oil in while the machine is running. Make sure to scrape the sides then pulse again until thoroughly mixed. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if needed.
For storage: this pesto is purposefully thick. Load into small jars within an inch of the top. Top off with olive oil to the very top of the jar before putting on the lid—this keeps the pesto underneath green and fresh for freezing.
If you don’t plan to give the pesto as gifts, and want to keep a stash for you and your family, pesto can easily be frozen in ice cube trays. Simply pop out once frozen and store in freezer bags.
When ready to use, simple set out on the counter or in a shallow pool of lukewarm water to thaw. Once thawed, you can keep it in the fridge and use the whole jar, or just take what you need and toss it back in the freezer—just be sure to replace that layer of olive oil on top first.